1.There was a time when Malaysia was unknown to the rest of the world.
2.When Malaysians went abroad and people ask where they came from, the reaction to their reply that they were from Malaysia, almost always evoke the comment, “Where is that?”
3.But today most foreign people would know where Malaysia is. They would even know that Malaysia succeeded in changing itself from an agricultural country to an industrial country. And today 24 million tourists visit Malaysia in one year.
4.All these did not just happen. The tourist industry has become a big contributor to the Malaysian economy because of action taken to make Malaysia well known.
5.When RM 280 million was spent to build the Sepang F1 race-track there was a lot of criticism. It seemed like a waste of money as the sport was not excelled by Malaysians.
6.One of the objectives was to promote Malaysia as a tourist destination and to showcase its attraction as a place to invest.
7.The race was watched by more than 100,000 people including almost 30,000 foreign spectators. But more importantly the race was broadcast live by more than 300 TV stations worldwide. It is estimated that more than 300 million people watch the F1 race all over the world. They not only see the car racing but also many aspects of Malaysia’s development and facilities. For three days the TV audience saw beautiful Malaysia and a lot of Malaysia’s development.
8.Advertising on Japanese TV is expensive, costing a million Ringgit for a three minute clip. But during F1 race Malaysia gets 2 hours a day for three days free TV coverage. Throughout the world 300 TV stations cover the race without our having to pay a single cent.
9.If we add up the advertising value for three days on 300 TV stations worldwide, the cost would be much more than the total cost of building the track. Multiply it with 15 years and the publicity value of that track will add up to billions.
10.If in addition we add the spending of some 30,000 tourists to see the race, the contribution to the national economy would justify the RM280 million we spent building the F1 race track.
11.These events, the F1 race, the Tour de Langkawi bicycle race, LIMA and a host of other events earn the nation a lot of money, far more than the cost of holding this events.
12.That is why I am saddened when the Government did not help out the organisers of the recently held Red Bull Air Race in Putrajaya. This race is held all over the world. Millions watch this race. The majority would be locals but many loyal followers travel to watch the race. The advertising value is very high, yet the cost of holding it is low.
13.The organisers cannot really make money from the event. But it is good advertising for the country.
14.The Government has contributed a small sum. But it should help more. And so should the big corporations.